Tuesday, February 18

USAC delays approval of final office space allocations

The Office Space Allocation Committee will be considering the appropriation of new office spaces this week, after a mandate set by undergraduate student government on Tuesday night.

The new spaces consist of two rooms on the fifth floor of Kerckhoff Hall, which have recently become available to be assigned to student groups.

The mandate came as a result of dissatisfied student groups in attendance at the Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting on Tuesday, such as MEChA de UCLA, African Student Union and Asian Pacific Coalition, who expressed disapproval over the office space allocation process.

“We are commending OSAC for attempting such a great task, but there needs to be more rigorous research about the nature of our individual organizations,” said Richard Stevenson, chair of the African Student Union.

The groups expressed sentiments of disappointment because this year’s OSAC proposed the granting of office spaces to groups who had not previously held them at Kerckhoff.

“OSAC has allocated more office spaces to more student groups this year,” said Argie Mina, chair of OSAC.

Among the 45 applications it received, OSAC decided to grant office spaces to 24 of those groups.

But in trying to please more student groups, OSAC had to shift or change the spaces of tenured groups who have decades of seniority in occupying certain office spaces.

“Opportunities for new groups should not come at the expense of old, existing organizations,” General Representative James Birks said.

Part of the concern conveyed by those in attendance was the indifference OSAC seems to have used in considering the longevity of tradition that anchors certain student groups.

The African Student Union, which serves as an umbrella organization for 24 separate student groups, has been located at the Kerckhoff office space for three decades, Stevenson said.

“OSAC is proposing to relocate 24 groups to fit in three new ones,” Stevenson added.

New OSAC guidelines stipulate a point-system grading to determine how office space will be allocated to groups based on the scores they receive. However, concern was raised that numbers cannot account for the influence and depth certain organizations have in the UCLA community.

“The Asian Pacific Coalition will have to share office space with the Office of the External Vice President, Model U.N., the Jewish Student Union and Bruins for Israel,” said Misha Tsukerman, director of the Asian Pacific Coalition.

“This arrangement does not seem logical at all considering the large constituents each group represents.”

Ex-officio members joined the debate to encourage discourse about the severely impacted groups.

“(Office space allocation) has to depend on specific needs of a particular group, and it’s impossible to fit all groups into the limited spaces available,” said Berky Nelson, an administrative representative.

News of the availability of the new spaces reached OSAC only minutes before the group presented its proposed office space allocations to the student government.

Due to this circumstance, the council voted to delay approving the final office space allocations until next week by giving OSAC an opportunity to consider the new developments.

“We have to get these offices ready and out to the student groups,” USAC President Homaira Hosseini said.

“There is a way to make everyone happy. We just have to make it happen.”

Mina repeatedly voiced his idea to convert the new spaces to communal office spaces on a temporary basis.

“We should try converting the new spaces for a year until the next OSAC has a chance to bring a more permanent solution,” Mina said.

Mina’s reluctance to reevaluate the allocations in light of the latest developments steered anger from the groups in attendance.

“I have no sympathy for OSAC to crunch a few numbers,” Tsukerman said. “I don’t want to hear that the new rooms became communal spaces because OSAC was inconvenienced.”

Motions from various council members brought the issue to a vote to table, which passed 11-0-1. USAC will vote on the proposed office space allocations at next Tuesday’s meeting.

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